Posted by & filed under Automation, Autonomous Vehicles, robotics, Uncategorized.

 

Some $26 billion is spent on herbicides each year. These chemicals are often indiscriminately sprayed over entire fields of crops that have been genetically modified to resist the chemical onslaught. And it’s agrochemical giants like Bayer, DowDuPont, and Syngenta that usually create both the genetically modified seeds and the chemicals that are sprayed on them.  The ecoRobotix weeder could undercut the agrochemical complex by spraying herbicides more precisely.

Source: Digital Trends

Date: May 30th, 2018

Link to article: https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/ecorobotix/

Discussion

1) What other sorts of applications could a machine like this have?

2) How might a machine like this be used to improve potholes in city roads?

Posted by & filed under Amazon, App Economy.

It was Alexa’s equivalent of a pocket dial.

A woman in Portland, Oregon, claimed her Amazon Echo smart-speaker secretly recorded a private conversation, then sent the audio file to an acquaintance. She told her story to a local news outlet and it spread, stoking fears about always listening devices invading privacy.

Amazon confirmed the incident and claimed it was caused by an extremely rare series of events. The Echo misheard four different commands causing it to turn on, record a voice message, and send it to a contact.

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: May 29th, 2018

Link: http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/25/technology/amazon-alexa-stop-recording/index.html

Discussion

1) “When you first set up an Alexa device on a smartphone, you give the app permission to access the contacts saved on your phone.”   This is exactly the issue with the app developed by a Cambridge professor on Facebook, who sold that contact list to Cambridge Analytica, who then supposedly used that to create adverts to influence the U.S. election.  Why is this not such a big issue for Amazon as it was (is) for Facebook?

2) Why do people ever click the “yes, it is okay for this app to have access to all my contacts” button?

Posted by & filed under Google.

Robots underground

Sidewalk Labs promises to transform the disused waterfront area into a bustling mini metropolis, one built “from the internet up”, although there is no timetable for when the city will actually be built.

Dan Doctoroff, the company’s head and former deputy mayor of New York, told the BBC the project was “about creating healthier, safer, more convenient and more fun lives”.

“We want this to be a model for what urban life can be in the 21st Century,” he said.

The area will have plenty of sensors collecting data – from traffic, noise and air quality – and monitoring the performance of the electric grid and waste collection.

Source: BBC Future

Date: May 29th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-41414872

Discussion

1) Should companies be responsible for building cities “from the internet up”?

2) What are some issues with starting a city “from the internet”?

Posted by & filed under Ethical Issues, ethics, YouTube.

YouTube

Some of YouTube’s most popular stars have criticised the website for “experimenting” with how their videos are delivered to their fans.

Unannounced, YouTube started testing an algorithm that changed the order videos appeared in users’ subscription feeds.

The experiment came to light when some users complained on social media.

One YouTube star said it was the worst decision the website had made for years. But YouTube defended its experiment.

Source: BBC Technology News

Date: May 29th, 2018

Link: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44279189

Discussion

1) YouTube provides its services for free and allows people to monetize that free service for their own personal profit and enrichment.  Is it appropriate for someone who does this to complain about how YouTube operates?

2) Should platforms like YouTube have to inform users of the platform when they are experimenting with algorithms?

Posted by & filed under Blackberry.

According to online measurement firm comScore, BlackBerry only accounts for 3 per cent of Canadian smartphones.

According to online measurement firm comScore, there aren’t many holdouts left in Canada still using a BlackBerry.

BlackBerrys accounted for only 3 per cent of the smartphones used in Canada at the end of last year, comScore says.

Source: Toronto Star

Date: May 22nd, 2018

Link: https://www.thestar.com/business/tech_news/2018/05/16/blackberry-only-accounted-for-3-of-canadian-smartphones-last-year-firm-says.html

Discussion

1) Does it matter that Blackberry is no longer a dominant global phone maker?

2) What went wrong for Blackberry?

 

Posted by & filed under Crypto currency.

A single bitcoin transaction uses more energy than a Canadian home for a month, one expert is estimating.

Bitcoin miners will guzzle more electricity this year than some countries do, according to new numbers from a leading researcher. And while some critics take issue with these figures, few disagree that the digital currency’s energy use is a problem that’s only getting bigger.

Economist Alex de Vries studies bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which were invented in 2008 by an anonymous computer programmer. Bitcoin allows people to buy and sell things directly from each other without the use of intermediaries, like banks or currencies controlled and manipulated by governments.

Source: CBC News

Date: May 22nd, 2018

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/bitcoin-electricity-1.4668768

Discussion

1) Do you understand what is being done during cryptomining?  Do some research to find out what it means.

2) Why does cryptomining use so much electricity?

Posted by & filed under Biomimicry.

SoFi isn’t like other fish, but they don’t seem to notice.

Pale and plump with a tail that swishes side-to-side, the one-eyed robotic fish was built by scientists at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL).

It is designed to swim naturally alongside other fish in open water and spy on them without raising suspicions or disturbing their natural habitat.

The un-tethered robot can use its camera to record behaviors of anything from sharks and whales to schools of tiny damselfish.

Source: CNN Technology News

Date: May 22nd, 2018

Link: http://money.cnn.com/2018/03/21/technology/mit-fish-robot/index.html

Discussion

1) How might you put SoFi to other applications underwater?

2) This is an example of biomimicry, where scientists copy nature.  Do you know of any other examples of biomimicry?

Posted by & filed under Emerging Technologies.

Red Hydrogen One

AT&T and Verizon announced this week they will start selling a holographic smartphone later this year. The Red Hydrogen One smartphone is the first phone from video equipment company Red.

The Android phone’s killer feature is a “holographic display” that projects 3D images that can be viewed without special glasses. You will be able to view the images from the sides and behind, and interact with them using special hand gestures. It will also include cameras for capturing the custom 3D images.

Source: CNN Technology

Date: May 22nd, 2018

Link: http://money.cnn.com/2018/05/18/technology/holographic-phone-red-hydrogen-one-release/index.html

Discussion

1) Is 3D holography a “killer app”?

2) For what sorts of things might 3D holography be really useful?

Posted by & filed under Amazon, Civil Liberties.

Amazon.com Inc. drew the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday over a facial-recognition system offered to law-enforcement agencies that the advocacy group says can be used to violate civil rights.

In marketing materials obtained by the group, Amazon Web Services said its Rekognition system uses artificial intelligence to quickly identify people in photos and videos, enabling law enforcement to track individuals.

“Amazon’s Rekognition raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns,” the group said in a statement. “Today, the ACLU and a coalition of civil rights organizations demanded that Amazon stop allowing governments to use Rekognition.”

Source: Bloomberg Technology News

Date: May 22nd, 2018

Link: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-22/amazon-criticized-by-civil-rights-group-over-facial-recognition

Discussion

1) Does Amazon have a duty to protect individuals privacy for every piece of software it develops and sells?

2) What sorts of services could you sell using Amazon’s Rekognition system platform?

Posted by & filed under App Economy.

A Toronto–based app connecting restaurants and bars to temporary workers will soon be expanding to the city’s retail market, adding a new dimension to the growing gig economy  — and raising questions about how to protect the workers who depend on it.

Hyr launched in February 2017. About 300 Toronto restaurants now use it and more than 5,000 workers have also logged on.

“We’ve grown exponentially,” said the app’s co-founder, Erika Mozes. “The first demand for it really came from workers because … this new economy and the way that people want to be able to make money when they want to make money.”

Source: CBC News

Date: May 16th, 2018

Link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/hyr-app-toronto-1.4662620

Discussion

1) “We’re kind of the Airbnb for hourly paid work.”  What is meant by this statement?

2) Would this sort of app work in your town or city?  How would you roll it out?